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WCF Tips & Tricks [a selection] from the field. Christian Weyer Solution Architect thinktecture christian.weyer@thinktecture.com. and Christian Weyer. Support & consulting for Windows and .NET software developers and architects Developer coaching and mentoring

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Wcf tips tricks a selection from the field l.jpg

WCF Tips & Tricks[a selection] from the field

Christian Weyer

Solution Architect



And christian weyer l.jpg
and Christian Weyer

  • Support & consulting for Windows and .NET software developers and architects

    • Developer coaching and mentoring

    • Architecture consulting and prototyping

    • Architecture and code reviews

    • Applicationoptimization, troubleshooting, debugging

  • Focus on distributed applications, service orientation, workflows, cloud computing, interoperability, security, end-to-end solutions

    • Windows Server, WCF, WF, MSMQ, Azure Services, Windows Azure

  • http://www.thinktecture.com

  • christian.weyer@thinktecture.com

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For starters: Super-duper TIP

  • WCF is not just Web Services !

  • WCF is not always about SOA !

  • WCF does not stand for

    • Web Services Consumption Foundation

    • Windows Cool-SOA Foundation

  • It is the Windows CommunicationFoundation!

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Agenda – Dealing with...

  • Consuming

  • Hosting

  • Bindings

  • Quotas & throttles

  • WSDL

  • Performance & throughput

  • Large data

  • Tracing

Problems Solutions/Tips 


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Not covered, some...

  • Contract modelling

  • REST

  • Security

  • Asynchronous processing

  • Fault handling

  • Deep extensibility

  • WF integration

  • NATs & firewalls

  • ... and surely more ...

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Consuming – Problems

  • Do I always need to create a proxy class from WSDL/MEX?

  • How can I make consuming services more robust?

  • Is there a way to improve performance when calling services?

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Consuming – Solutions I

  • For non-interop no need to use svcutil.exe or ‘Add Service Reference’

    • shared contracts approach works good in WCF-to-WCF scenarios

    • ChannelFactory<T> and DuplexChannelFactory<T> are powerful means

    • use custom interface extending service contract & IClientChannel

  • Avoid using statement when dealing with proxies (ICommunicationObject-derived objects)

    • can still throw at end of using block, e.g. for network errors

    • explicit exception handling; can be dealt withe.g. in extension method

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Consuming – Solutions II

  • Try to cache proxy or ChannelFactory in high-throughput applications

    • creating them can mean significant overhead

    • ASP.NET client applications should not create ChannelFactory on each page call

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Consuming – Samples

Client side

interface IMyContractChannel : IMyContract, System.ServiceModel.IClientChannel {}

ChannelFactory<IMyContractChannel> cf = new ChannelFactory<IMyContractChannel>(binding, address);

IMyContractChannel client = cf.CreateChannel();





… client.Close();


catch (CommunicationException e)


… client.Abort();


catch (TimeoutException e)


… client.Abort();


catch (Exception e)


… client.Abort();



Client side

Client side

IMyContractChannelchannel =



Client side

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Hosting - Problems

  • Which host to use? IIS/WAS or a self-host?

  • How do I inject logic in IIS/WAS hosting?

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Hosting – Solutions

  • Use IIS/WAS for robust, highly scalable services

    • beware of the process & AppDomain lifecycle features

    • when using non-HTTP (TCP, Named Pipes, MSMQ) with WAS hosting AppDomain recycling still comes into your way

  • Use self-hosting in Windows Service to have full control and light-weight hosting environment

  • Custom ServiceHost & ServiceHostFactory implementations to provide custom initialization code

    • hook up factory in .svc file for IIS/WAS

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Hosting – Samples

class MyServiceHost : System.ServiceModel.ServiceHost


public MyServiceHost(Type serviceType, params Uri[] baseAddresses) : base(serviceType, baseAddresses)




protected override void ApplyConfiguration()





Custom ServiceHost

class MyServiceHostFactory : System.ServiceModel.Activation.ServiceHostFactory


protected override ServiceHostCreateServiceHost( Type serviceType, Uri[] baseAddresses)


return new MyServiceHost(serviceType, baseAddresses);



Custom ServiceHostFactory

<%@ ServiceHost Language="C#" Debug="true" Service="MediaService" Factory="MyServiceHostFactory" %>

.svc file

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Bindings - Problems

  • My WCF service is slow, what is happening?

  • I want to use HTTP but not necessarily angle brackets (aka ‚XML‘)

  • How can I choose from the best communication options?

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Bindings – Solutions I

  • Beware of using the wrong bindings

    • e.g. Visual Studio WCF wizards use WsHttpBinding(heavy with message security & session-based)

    • only use features you really need

  • Think about the real need for session-bound channels/bindings

    • sessions change the game of fault and error handling

    • use sessions when you need session semantics in your service

  • But: sessions can give performance improvements

    • e.g. security token hand-shake happens only once with SecureConversation

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Bindings – Solutions II

  • Custom bindings will save your day

    • e.g. binary over HTTP often a good trade-off for WCF-to-WCF communication scenarios

    • build custom binding in config or code

  • Create user-defined binding for easier re-usage

    • bake common custom binding setups into re-usable code and config implementations

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Bindings - Samples



<add name="netHttpBinding"

type="NetHttpBindingCollectionElement, Thinktecture.ServiceModel, Version=…" />





<binding name="unsecureNetHttp" securityMode="None" />



<binding name="binaryHttp">

<binaryMessageEncoding />

<httpTransport />




public class NetHttpBinding :











User-defined binding

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Quotas & Throttles - Problems

  • Beyond Hello World, all my services and consumers fail with strange exceptions

  • My services do not perform the way they are supposed to

  • How can I teach WCF to be less ‘conservative’ in closed Intranet environments?

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Quotas & Throttles - Solutions

  • Bindings

    • adjust buffers, connection limits, timeouts

  • Behaviors

    • configure throttling service behavior

  • Serializers

    • check maximum items in object graph value

  • Custom ChannelFactoryand ServiceHost can automate all this

    • e.g. through profiles


not true!


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Quotas & Throttles - Samples



<binding name="rawStreamingWeb" transferMode="StreamedResponse">





<binding name="httpStreaming" sendTimeout="Infinite">

<binaryMessageEncoding />

<httpTransporttransferMode="Streamed" />






<behavior name="MyServiceBehavior">

<serviceThrottlingmaxConcurrentCalls="1500" maxConcurrentInstances="1500" maxConcurrentSessions="1500" />






Consuming code

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WSDL - Problems

  • Some non-WCF consumers cannot understand the WSDL WCF produces

  • My WSDL contains the wrong host name

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WSDL – Solutions

  • Use custom extension to flatten WSDL into one file

    • need to use same namespace values forServiceContract, ServiceBehavior, BindingNamespace

    • eliminates wsdl:import and xsd:import

  • Register hostheaders in IIS toreflectnamesinto WSDL

    • for HTTP and HTTPS

  • Specify different URIs forlisteningandexposing in WSDL

    <endpointaddress="https://www.tt.com/TheUriIWantInWSDL" listenUri="http://localhost/TheActualUriServiceListensToOnThisBox" ...>

  • Considerexposing a static WSDL whichdocumentsyourpublishedinterfaceversion

Wsdl samples l.jpg
WSDL - Samples

<%@ ServiceHost Language= "C#" Service="ProductCatalog" Factory="Thinktecture.ServiceModel.Activation.FlatWsdlServiceHostFactory" %>

.svc file

applicationHost.config (IIS7)


<binding protocol="http”bindingInformation="*:80:www.thinktecture.com" />

<binding protocol="https" bindingInformation="*:443:www.thinktecture.com" />


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Large Data - Problems

  • My service eats a lot of memory and chokes the CPU when sending/receiving large data

  • Bigger messages are making my communication really slow

  • I have arbitrary, non-structured data to transfer

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Large Data – Solutions I

  • WCF supports MTOM for encoding binary data

    • MTOM especially useful for interop

  • Chunking channels available as SDK & community samples

    • enables sending chunks of data instead of one single piece

    • transparently works with different transports as a binding element

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Large Data – Solutions II

  • Consider using streaming for transfering abitrary data

    • requires certain contract shape

      • Stream

      • Message

      • Stream as single body in MessageContract

    • works over any transport besides MSMQ

    • works with transport and mixed-mode security

    • still watch out for quotas

    • powerful with web programming model

Large data samples l.jpg
Large Data - Samples


public interface IVideoPlayer



[WebGet(UriTemplate = "videos/{videoID}")]

[WebContentType(MimeType = "video/x-ms-wmv")]

Stream Play(string videoID);


Service contract


WebServiceHostwebHost = new WebServiceHost(


WebHttpBinding binding = new WebHttpBinding();

binding.TransferMode = TransferMode.Streamed;






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Performance/Throughput - Problems

  • Somehow my entire WCF-based application is ‚slow‘

  • Hosting my WCF service in IIS seems not to perform well under high load

  • I cannot seem to get a high throughput when clients talk to my service via HTTP

  • All that data is being transferred again and again, it makes my system slow

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Performance/Throughput – Solutions

  • Configuring throttling can heal a lot (look there!)

  • .NET 3.5 SP1 provides asynchronous HTTP module & handler for hosting WCF in IIS for better behavior

  • Client-side HTTP communication is limited to 2 concurrent connections to a server

    • configurable through System.Net

  • Cache, cache, cache!

    • try to use caching intensively (but wisely) to save unnecessary round-trips

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Performance/Throughput - Samples



<add address="*" maxconnection="20"/>




public List<Episode> ListEpisodes()

{IDataCache cache = DataCacheFactory.CreateInstance();

List<Episode> episodes = cache.Get<List<Episode>>(CacheConstants.AllEpisodes);

if (episodes == null)


varepisodeList = mediaLogic.ListAllEpisodes();

episodes = EpisodeDataMapper.MapAllEpisodes(episodeList);

cache.Add(CacheConstants.AllEpisodes, episodes);


return episodes;


public interface IDataCache


void Add(string key, object cacheItem);

TCacheItem Get<TCacheItem>(string key);

void Remove(string key);


E.g. service facade

Caching lib

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Special Case: Tracing

  • Use it! It can save your… 

  • If things go wrong and you have no clue why: trace!

  • But do not overuse it when in production

    • wrong usage can mean severe overhead

  • Configured via config file

    • can be manipulated via code, but only through WMI

  • Did I already say tracing can save your …?

Tracing sample l.jpg
Tracing - Sample



<sourcename="System.ServiceModel" switchValue="Warning" propagateActivity="true">


<add type="System.Diagnostics.DefaultTraceListener" name="Default" />

<addname="ServiceModelTraceListener" />






type="System.Diagnostics.XmlWriterTraceListener, …"

name="ServiceModelTraceListener" traceOutputOptions="Timestamp" />


<traceautoflush="true" />


PS script

$ms = get-wmiobject -class "AppDomainInfo" -namespace "root\servicemodel" -computername "." | where {$_.Name -eq "MyWCFHost.exe"}

$ms.TraceLevel = "Warning, ActivityTracing"






Resources l.jpg

  • Avoiding problems with the using statement

    • http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa355056.aspx

  • Custom encoders

    • http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms751486.aspx

    • http://blogs.msdn.com/drnick/archive/2006/05/16/598420.aspx

  • Tracing

    • http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms732023.aspx

    • http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa751795.aspx

    • http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms733025.aspx

    • http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa751917.aspx

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  • Setting up IIS SSL hostheaders

    • http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/WindowsServer2003/Library/IIS/596b9108-b1a7-494d-885d-f8941b07554c.mspx

    • http://blogs.iis.net/thomad/archive/2008/01/25/ssl-certificates-on-sites-with-host-headers.aspx

  • baseAddressPrefixFilter

    • http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb924492.aspx

  • Chunkingchannel

    • http://code.msdn.microsoft.com/WCFResources/Release/ProjectReleases.aspx?ReleaseId=1546

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  • Asynchronous WCF HTTP Module/Handler for IIS7 for Better Server Scalability

    • http://blogs.msdn.com/wenlong/archive/2008/08/13/orcas-sp1-improvement-asynchronous-wcf-http-module-handler-for-iis7-for-better-server-scalability.aspx

  • WCF bindings & more

    • http://www.noemax.com

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  • We have code solutions for some WCF problems, for free of course

    • Thinktecture.ServiceModel

  •  Email Christian Weyer

    • christian.weyer@thinktecture.com

  • Weblog Christian Weyer

    • http://blogs.thinktecture.com/cweyer

  • thinktecture

    • http://www.thinktecture.com

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